In 2004, Joe Trippi published a book titled, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, named after Gill Scott-Heron’s 1970 rap poem, recorded just at the end of the revolution’s first round in the 1960s. Everyone sensed the author and poet were correct, without knowing the words, but that didn’t tell you the nature of the revolution, how it would happen, or even what its purpose would be. For Trippi, thirty-four years after the original, it was just the revolution.
We’re seeing it now. The GOP is the first institution to crumble. Old institutions stand for a long time, but they gradually cease to carry out their former function, like ruins in the Syrian desert. We don’t know whether Trump will defeat Hillary Clinton in four weeks, but if you ask around to see how well he is doing against the Republican party, you will hear a lot of people say, “Pretty well.” The GOP gave us Trump, then folded its tent.
If you read my posts, you know I am no Trump supporter. Trump backer or otherwise, besides Republican office holders, I don’t see many who mourn the party’s crackup. It sprang to life in Ripon, Wisconsin during the 1850s, ran Abraham Lincoln as its first candidate for president, and ended its days of glory with Ronald Reagan in the White House. Since Reagan, it has had no president in the White House not named Bush. Both of these presidents were utter failures. By granting Bush W. a second term, the party and the nation brought ruin to both the nation and the party.
W.’s abject dishonesty, callowness and incompetence created conditions a man like Trump could exploit. People sought a restoration of trust through Obama, and reaped more self-centered corruption. The savior proved just as delinquent as all the others. If you want to know why so many would take a chance on a swindler who offers nothing but authoritarian nostrums, you can answer that question easily. Trump’s supporters think no one can be worse than the leaders we’ve had, or currently have. They’ve lost almost every social asset that keeps people well grounded, respected and valuable within their communities. As they decide which candidate to select, they’ll ask, “What have I got to lose here?” They can truthfully reply, “Nothing.”
Trump may lose this election, but his supporters won’t disappear. A revolution this long in the making won’t unravel because the coarse authoritarian loses to the smoother one.
If you respond, “Desperate people make bad choices,” that does not give you insight into motives for this revolt. Adam Haslett’s article in The Nation lends insight. People, for several significant reasons, feel ashamed of themselves. Trump knows how to exploit that condition for his own advancement. Trumpian crudities evoke feigned horror from mainstreamers, who pour their dismay on Trump’s supporters, but the other party’s candidate, who says she wants their votes, has already called them deplorables. Again, they have nothing to lose. They won’t switch their allegiance because their strongman has coarse manners, uses women to gratify his sexual appetites, and does not seem to care that much about a constitution both parties have already trashed.
As one observer said recently, Trump may lose this election, but his supporters won’t disappear. A revolution this long in the making won’t unravel because the coarse authoritarian loses to the smoother one. Government’s contempt for people it regards as deplorable won’t go away, either. By turning out to vote for Trump, in the millions, voters demonstrated they have had it. They do not want any more condescension from officers in authority who seem to see every encounter with citizens as another power trip, or a chance to parade their position high on society’s ladder of prestige and insignificance. That’s what we call inequality.
Alienated citizens do not want to see their money wasted, their private information collected and hoarded because their leaders fear them, or their sons and daughters sent to fight in wars where all the leaders appear to be criminals and tyrants. They do not want to see their sons shot down in their own neighborhoods, or their daughters raped by policemen who think it’s a kick to threaten young women with jail if they don’t put out for them. People have a lot of reasons for saying, “I don’t want to take this anymore.”
The sentiment, and the revolution, mean different things for different people. Nevertheless the movement has a common foundation among those who participate in it. They feel alienated from their government, and from their leaders. If people who say they want their country back choose a leader like Trump, that does not discredit the sentiment, or the aim. Voters who want their country back want an end to alienation. If their republic suffers a loss of democracy in the process, they’re willing to hand that over to anyone who says he’ll make them feel good to be American again. An end to alienation means a restoration of pride, a feeling that people don’t look down on you anymore. People need to belong, they need to be free, and they need dignity.
That’s what this revolution is about.
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